Playland at PNE: the story of this iconic filming location


It has been attracting thrill seekers and film sets for years.

The Playland Vancouverites know and love has been a magnet for thrill seekers and film sets for years.

The stand-alone amusement park has been around for just over a century, but has undergone a rollercoaster of renovations. Its roots are tied to the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), which is the second largest fair in North America, and the properties make attractive filming locations.

Playland also recently announced the construction Canada’s fastest roller coaster just a few months after the unveiling another new ride.

happy land

The story of how Playland was born begins in 1910 when Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier officially opened the first annual PNE fair.

The NWP was a chance for British Columbia to be recognized by the rest of Canada and the world, and earned the ranking of second largest fair in North America, behind the New York State Fair.

During its first decade, the PNE had several rides, including a roller coaster which was installed in 1915. However, a permanent amusement complex was not built until 1926, with the “Giant Dipper” ride. replacing the 1915 roller coaster“Dip the dips.”

This new amusement park was called “Happy Land” and was a precursor to Playland, opening for its first full season in 1929.

Playground and wooden roller coaster

After about 30 years, Happyland moved to a new part of the property under a new name: Playland.

The original site was demolished and eventually redeveloped for the Pacific Coliseum.

Just a decade before Happyland closed, locals were protesting the demolition of a hugely popular ride, “The Giant Dipper”.

According to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, the current wooden roller coaster “was designed a year after the closure of PNE’s original amusement park, Happyland. It replaced an earlier coaster designed by Phare, The giant ladlewhich was demolished in 1948 to make way for an expanding Hastings Park Racecourse.”

The Wooden Roller Coaster, which opened in 1958 and cost $200,000 to build, has also been threatened with demolition.

Fragments of the merry-go-round were intended for use as garden ornaments in a park intended to replace Playland. But in 2009, the ride was named the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) organization’s 21st Coaster Landmark and a “classic” roller coaster. The local attraction is the only way to receive these two designations.

The park was owned by several parent companies and became a division of the PNE family in 1993.

Films and TV shows filmed at Playland

The amusement park began attracting movie sets as early as 1990, seeing many popular movies and TV shows, including:

  • Psych
  • Happy Gilmore
  • the flash
  • Imposters
  • Fringe
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Heatwave
  • super girl
  • Arrow
  • The word I
  • MacGyver
  • To fear
  • batman
  • Miracle
  • Best of Show
  • 3000 miles to Graceland
  • Kyle XY
  • Are we already there?
  • ride the ball
  • Rocky IV
  • Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
  • Alcatraz
  • The X Files: I Want to Believe
  • Final Destination 3
  • Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassin’s Ball
  • mountaineer
  • bird on a wire
  • Adam who divides
  • holy sinner
  • Dead End: Escape Area 14
  • Leonardo da Vinci’s investigation
  • The Odyssey
  • Male secret agent
  • Cursors
  • Smallville
  • Intelligence
  • Russian mountains
  • The edge of seventeen

With files from Vancouver Is Awesome staff


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